A new dawn has risen on the United Kingdom.
Contrary to expectations, the nation voted on Thursday to leave the EU by a narrow but clear margin of four per cent of the vote.
This is a time of joy and optimism for millions of people who backed the Leave option in the referendum. It is also a time of anxiety and uncertainty for the millions of people who did not.
No-one knows what lies ahead, but the unknowability of the future cannot be a decisive argument against change or else no bad situation would ever be altered.
There was a fundamental problem with Britain’s place within the EU. It was neither one thing, nor the other. The UK had left the EU inner core once it opted out of the euro. The prime minister’s position, of touting his supposed reforms, was less coherent than Brexit or Eurofederalism. The notion that we could enjoy the benefits of membership but reform our way out of the negatives was unreal.
Now is a time for far-reaching diplomacy both within Britain and towards what will be our EU allies. There is sore feeling among separatists within the UK and there will be frustration in EU capitals. But nation states must be free to take major decisions even though groups within them might not want a particular change. And it is in the interests of both the UK and the EU that we trade easily.
The UK is one of the most vibrant and successful nations in human history. It has now chosen a new path at a time of great economic opportunity but also great turmoil, danger and tragedy. The wounds from the campaign will take years to heal, but with time they will do, as even nations that went through civil war have done.
This is also an exciting time for the British Isles, with excellent cross border relations. The Republic prefers to be in the EU and we are leaving it. But that is no more reason for bad relations than is the differing EU status of Norway and Sweden, which have friendly relations despite sharing a very long external EU border.